Sting Ray Robb just wants to finish higher than third.
Robb, a second-year Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires driver for Andretti Autosport, has produced a consistent start to the 2022 season, finishing fourth, third, third, third, 11th and third in six races.
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That string of success has resulted in a 4.5 average finish and has arguably made him championship leader Linus Lundqvist’s biggest challenger. Benjamin Pedersen also has a 4.5 average finish, but Robb’s four podiums outnumber Pedersen’s three.
Robb is third in the championship standings, 92 points behind Lundqvist and just eight behind Pedersen.
“Overall, I think it’s been a good season so far,” Robb said. “We want to get more than a third. It seems like that’s kind of been life at the moment.”
His only down moment of the season in his No. 2 Sekady car for Andretti Autosport came in Race 1 of last weekend’s doubleheader weekend on Detroit’s Raceway at Belle Isle Park, but the box score doesn’t represent his performance.
Robb was attempting to pass Pedersen for second on Lap 14 with an outside move in Turn 7. Robb admits he was driving too aggressively, and he hit the tire barrier while trying to complete the pass. He was credited with 11th place, his only finish outside the top five this season.
Idaho native Robb thinks had he not made that mistake, he had a real chance to catch Lundqvist and challenge for the win and close the championship gap.
Still, Robb takes solace he has contended for a podium finish in every Indy Lights race. Those performances, he said, make him believe he’s still a championship contender even though the series reaches its halfway point in this Sunday’s Indy Lights Grand Prix at Road America (10:35 a.m. ET, live on Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network).
“I feel like we’ve shown that we’re getting better every weekend,” Robb said. “I think that’s the key to a championship, just constant improvement. It seems like we’ve been able to do that in just about every condition. We’ve been right there at every event.
“I feel like we’re knocking on the door, and we’re just going to keep going in that direction.”
It’s a marked turn of events for Robb in his second Indy Lights season. In his rookie year in 2021 for Juncos Racing, Robb failed even to score one podium, recording a best finish of fifth at Mid-Ohio-3 during the final race weekend of the season.
The lack of progress was tough for Robb to accept. But Robb, who won the Indy Pro 2000 championship in 2020, said he feels the wait has made him a better and championship-caliber driver.
“Your first season in Indy Lights is never easy, and I think that Juncos and myself were really excited to get the season going after coming off that championship in 2020,” he said. “We had big expectations, and we didn’t meet those.
“I learned that my identity doesn’t lie in the results that I’m having week in and week out.”
Robb said he thinks the lackluster 2021, paired with an impressive 2022, is very representative of his racing career. His results have featured many ups and downs, teaching him how to be patient and wait for results.
So, Robb is not stressing about his points deficit to Lundqvist with eight races remaining on the 2022 schedule. In the moment, Robb is having fun and enjoying his passion, and he thinks that will lead to success.
“I haven’t had the most straightforward career, and I’m thankful for that because I think those tough seasons that I’ve had in the past have taught me a lot about maturity, patience, managing expectations and pressure,” Robb said. “You learn as a driver in those tough moments.
“There’s a lot left in the season. I think we’re all striving to get better, and so it’s just staying focused.”
Robb is eager the series is heading next to the 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Last year in Indy Lights, Robb finished eighth and ninth in the Road America doubleheader weekend in his first Indy Lights visit to the track.
Now, with two Road America races under his belt, he believes that experience will make him a contender for victory Sunday.
“I’m feeling really good for this weekend, as I have all the other ones,” he said. “I think that we’re building momentum slowly but surely. We had a good test there earlier this year, so we just have to see how we stack up and keep going in that direction. Hopefully we’re going to get a win along the way.”